Are Fictional Characters Real?

Feedback from the few hundred people who have read pre-release copies of Saving Jane Doe has revealed one common comment and two common questions. The comment: I love Uncle Henry. The questions: Is Uncle Henry real and are you Cara Land? The simple answer is no. I do not have an Uncle Henry or an uncle just like him with another name. He is bits and pieces of several people and some of his own making. Likewise, I am not Cara Land. Even though we had similar professional education and careers and people who know me will hear me in her voice, we are very different in many ways, one being that she has an Uncle Henry and I only wish I did.

My favorite TV program is Castle. Richard Castle is a best selling author of murder mysteries who is shadowing a NYPD detective named Kate Beckett. He is enchanted with Kate and says he needs to do research to make her the heroine of his new novel series. I love the writing references, but most of all I love the humor. Who knew a murder mystery could be funny? Okay, this is pretty clear fiction, but to further confuse fiction and reality, in September after the first season of Castle, Harper Collins published a novel, Heat Wave, which was written by Richard Castle with biographical information like on the show and a  heroine like Kate Beckett. I have the book in my library. It is very real. So I wonder, are fictional characters real?

Fictional characters may not be flesh and bone, but they do have a reality. Why else would we be so disturbed to hear that Atticus Finch was a bigot? The tears I cry at Uncle Henry’s passing wet my shirt. Richard Castle’s books are in my library. About half-way through writing Saving Jane Doe, Uncle Henry started writing his own dialogue. When fictional characters teach us something, when they make us think and feel, and when their stories become part of our consciousness, they become very real.

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